Soon I will post some great yoga stretches for runners so stay tuned. Better yet, comment and tell me what some of your favorite asanas are before and after running.
Yesterday I was in the Vermont City Marathon in a 5 person relay for the first time ever! If you had asked me a year ago if I would be participating in a marathon, I would have probably laughed. “Not likely…” Running, I have told myself for a while is not my thing. Our marathon leader Suzanne assured me that it was a walking team and I could run if I wanted to. Great, that gets me off the hook. No pressure to run. Hello? I am going to be in a marathon! Everyone there is all about running! How the heck was that going to work? Oh well, I would just go with it. I had spent numerous days of my life at running and skiing meets for my kids. I like the energy at them so I figured this was probably going to be similar.
So a few weeks before the big day, I ramped up my walking to 4 – 6 mile walks around my neighborhood, at Mills River Park, and around Jericho. I was feeling totally confident that I could do my 5.5 mile leg of the relay. Soon teams were created and running orders listed. I was the closer. I was the last person on the walking team for 5 teams from Camels Hump Middle School. There were 3 adult teams, 2 running, 1 walking and 2 student running teams. Yep, I was gonna be the last one in. I had to have several conversations with myself about this. Was I a loser by default? What would that be like to come in dead last for our school. It would probably have its negative vibe for a while but I was going to really try and be present for the moment and enjoy the ride. I resigned myself to being happy at the end.
The day before the race, I started to feel an excitement in my belly. People were posting things online about getting ready, their thoughts and feelings. Betsy, who was running in one of the other adult relays, dropped my bib and bag off at my house in the afternoon. I had #5075 on my bib! It even said in bold letters on the side LAST LEG. Everyone now would know I was last. It was fun to get my sneakers, socks, shirt, shorts and stuff together. Reality was kicking in. I was going to really do this.
Then came race day. I had decided that since our team had a target goal of under 6 hours for the walking relay that I would not be at the starting line since it would have me waiting for my turn for many hours. The race started at 8am. I got to the south side of Burlington at 9am. Many streets were closed and blocked off so I parked on Pine Street and walked about 7 – 8 blocked to get to Battery Park. When I arrived, there was super excitement in the air. The race was going and you could look up at the streets around Pearl Street and see packs of runners buzzing around the city streets like swarms of bees. The park was packed with spectators, volunteers and runners. I hung out and caught the vibe there for quite a while and took pictures of the runners. Then I decided to head out to Flynn School where my relay would pick up from.
I hopped on a shuttle at North St and North Ave and the driver took off down North Ave. I sat in front of a lovely research scientist from UVM who was also doing a running leg of a relay from Flynn School as well. We became instant marathon buddies and chatted away about the race, running, dogs and lots of other stuff! We got dropped off at Flynn School for the long wait! I wish that I had a time lapse camera to setup at this outpost of the marathon. It was fascinating to watch people come and go. I knew I was there for the long haul so I just settled in and eventually other relay teammates began to arrive and the excitement became even more high energy. The handicap bikers were the first racers to pass by us, then some men individual runners and relay runners. The trickle of the fastest runners soon turned into streetful of people moving in packs.
I waited with 2 teammates who had finished their legs for what seemed like hours and finally it was my turn. I knew when Michelle and I passed the relay bracelet that I was going to give running, even if it was a slow jog a good shot. It was just too exciting, even at the end of the pack to not run!
My 5.5 mile trip began in the New North End Neighborhood near the school. It was a hot sunny day and I was blessed with tons of green shady trees in the first part of the leg. Traveling thru neighborhoods just made me smile as people hollered out word of encouragement. Things like “You’ve got this” “Great job” “You are doing awesome” There was this marathon connection that the whole city had turned up into high gear and it made me want to run fast and do my very best.
As I rounded a really large loop in the neighborhood I found myself at the entrance to the Burlington Bike Path with people cheering and showing the way to go. It was so beautiful! I looked out many times as I traveled along the edge of Lake Champlain and soaked in the beauty of the Adirondack Mountains and the water and breeze off the lake. What I loved was that there was a dirt (not pavement) path that I could run on and it was so much more giving on my feet than the hard pounding from the sidewalk pavement.
Nice people at the water stations holding out cups of water and Gatorade where cheering and smiling as I jogged by the first of 5 water stations on the last leg. I think they want people hydrating as much as possible at that point in the race especially the ones running the full marathon. The sun would pop out from the trees along the way making it hotter but I was just totally wrapped up in the running and people around that it did not matter and just made me feel good.
North End Drummers were stationed about ½ way down they bike path. They had a little sign set up and there was a good size group of drummers just keeping a beat going for me as I passed by them. I heard them for quite a ways before I saw them and then their steady beat followed behind me for quite some time. They were all smiles as I passed alone on the path. We waved and I kept by slow jog in motion.
As I ran I thought about Mariano Rivera who is the closer for the New York Yankees. I love watching him clean up the end of a game and then was when I realized that I wasn’t a loser, I was a closer just like him. Doing my best and getting into the zone on something I never thought I would do! I was also observing how my energy had changed as I approached about ½ way through my run. I wasn’t as enthusiastic as when I started but I was still feeling good. I was watching the runners in front and in back of me, some slowing to a walk and then picking up the pace and running again. I found that was hard. Once I started walking I had to really push myself to get back in to the jog I had been doing. But once I was on a roll, I was able to stay running for longer than I expected I could.
I passed Leddy Park and North Beach and soon before I knew it I could see the Sailing Center and Coast Guard station in Burlington. Spectators began to yell “You’re almost there!” “The chute is just up ahead!” The chute is the entrance to the end of the race which is bright orange fencing which leads you to the finish line.
The CHMS Cheerleaders (everyone that was still hanging around waiting for me to finish!)at the beer tent all jumped out of their seats and hollered at me as I went by. I made me laugh out loud as I looked at all their happy faces! Little did I realize I still had a bit further to run to the actual finish line so I kept going in what seemed like a long way until finally I ran across the line. People were cheering and I saw and smiled at other folks I knew. What a relief!
The beer tent crew found me and we all chattered for a bit about how great the whole experience was. Michelle told me my time was about 1 hour and 15 minutes which felt great to me! A few of us walked back to the Hilton Hotel to find our car. We wandered around in a bit of after marathon haze trying to find a bathroom and Michelle’s car. At last we hopped in and I sat. Ahhhhhhhh! I have found peace at the end. I like being the closer!